Chicago Cubs: Best Reserves in MLB
The last time the Cubs won the World Series, they were sharing the NL with teams such as the Boston Doves (now the Atlanta Braves) and the Brooklyn Superbas (now the L.A. Dodgers). The youngest player on the team was born in 1888 (Vin Campbell). The Cubs played at West Side Park (Weeghman Park was opened in 1914 and would later become Wrigley Field).
The Cubs clinched the N.L. pennant on Oct. 8, 1908 after a tie-breaker with the New York Giants (look-up "Merkle's Boner"). Some of the keys to these victories? The Cubs' reserves.
This is not unlike the 2008 Cubs, except the youngest player on this team was born in 1985 (Felix Pie). The 2008 Cubs reserves have helped the team immensely in clinching the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, but not without some mishaps.
Daryle Ward stepped up really well for the North Siders this year. After Fukudome succumbed to a long slump, Ward came in with a .319 on-base-percentage, and a pinch hit three-run walk-off home run against the Marlins in August.
Micah Hoffpauir is one of the big surprises for the Cubs this year. Making his debut on May 18 (coming in for an injured Daryle Ward), he has only had 73 at-bats. But at the same time, he has managed a .342 average, .400 on-base-percentage, and Minor League Player of the Year for the Cubs' farm system.
Mike Fontenot has been probably the most consistent reserve for the Cubs in the 2008 season. With 243 at-bats, a .395 on-base-percentage, and a .305 average, "Little Babe Ruth" (a nickname given to him by Ron Santo) has really helped with the team's success this season. The Cubs just might have gotten a steal with Fontenot, having traded Sammy Sosa to Baltimore for him.
Reed Johnson is one of the reserves to really watch out for. Johnson was cut by the Blue Jays during spring training and the Cubs grabbed him. It's another show of the Cubs improved front office. Reed missed a couple weeks in June due to some back problems, but came back with fire, especially in August. He hit above .500 for the month and played a crucial role in winning big games against the Brewers. On the season, Johnson has a .358 OBP with a .303 average.
Now these are just reserves—guys who will do their job when they need to. Coming into the series against the Dodgers, the Cubs have the advantage and not just because they're at Wrigley. The Cubs already have a great starting lineup, with eight All-Stars on the team, includig four pitchers. The Dodgers are probably considered the hottest team in the Majors right now, but the Cubs have more talent on the team.
In addition, the Cubs have the most runs scored in the National League. They say winning in the playoffs is all about manufacturing runs. How can you count the Cubs out when they have the most runs in the league?
The pitching has been outstanding, with the icing on the cake coming with Zambrano's no-hitter late in the season. The pitching staff is first in Batting Average Against (BAA) and third in the ERA category.
With a team that has been hurt so much in the past century, maybe more pain is awaiting Cubs fans this postseason. But maybe the Cubs will finally win a World Series in 2008 and honor "One Dying Cubs Fan's Last Request" (Steve Goodman).
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